West Midlands Ambulance Service is urging the public to make a New Year’s resolution to ensure that they use their ambulance service wisely during 2014.
The Trust is gearing up for New Year’s Eve, traditionally the busiest night of the year, when call demand can double within hours.
During the last few hours of 2012, the number of 999 calls steadily increased towards midnight. In the last four hours of 2012 (from 8pm to midnight), the Service received 638 calls. That’s a 15% increase compared to the same period the previous year.
However, it was the start of the New Year when the numbers began to increase more rapidly with the peak rate of calls coming in between 1am and 4am; a large proportion of them being for alcohol-related incidents including fights, assaults, falls and overdoses. After midnight, the Trust saw demand on the ambulance service increase with an average of five 999 calls every 60 seconds; one every 12 seconds.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “While the vast majority of people in the Region will be out celebrating, our staff will be working flat out. We will have dozens of additional staff working overnight staffing additional ambulances and rapid response vehicles.
“In addition, we will be working with voluntary organisations including St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross and Community First Responders.
“The last thing we want to do is to stop people having a good time and welcoming in the New Year in fine style but our experience of previous Hogmanay celebrations means that we will be expecting to see many preventable injuries.
“Sadly, because our staff are dealing with these, they aren’t available to get to the truly life threatening calls as quickly as they might have been able to which ultimately puts the lives of other people at risk.
Enjoy yourself but please follow this simple advice and don’t drink too much:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with a glass of water or fruit juice – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated
- Never drink on an empty stomach. Have a meal before or snacks throughout the night.
- Pace yourself by taking small sips – As well as planning how long each drink should take, slow down the rate at which you sip your drink. Sip less often and take smaller sips.
- Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Opt out and drink at your own pace
- To avoid your drink being tampered with, never leave it unattended and preferably always look after it yourself. If you think your drinks been spiked, seek immediate medical help
“As well as being busy, ambulance crews find themselves on the receiving end of anti-social behaviour from patients and the public who are often the worse for wear from drink or drugs. Please treat our staff as you would want to be treated yourself.
“Sadly, if this year is like the last few, we will have staff who will experience people shouting abuse at them; others will be kicked and punched and even spat at by patients and their friends and family.
“Make no mistake, wherever possible, we will press charges and work tirelessly to make people account for their despicable actions in the courts. Our staff are there to help people in their hour of need; please allow them to do so without fear or violence.”